Changing Your Sir-Name

There's more than one option in the name game

Equality. It’s a very broad stroke. For myself, it means that everyone is equal regardless of their race, gender, sexual orientation, disabilities—anything. It’s a goal that I firmly believe in, and I believe that the world would be a much better place if all people were treated as equals.

I’ve been dating a wonderful woman for nearly four years. She is my best friend and I would do anything for her, as she would for me. Early on in our relationship we discussed the topic of equality and what it meant to both of us. In particular, we discussed equality in a relationship and the importance of teamwork, communication, and cooperation—a small list of values that I would hope is relevant to every relationship.

She and I talked about marriage a lot in our relationship; it was something we wanted, but wasn’t feasible at the time. We were living in a city with little job prospects (a simple dishwashing job had over two hundred applicants—seriously). In order to build our family, our only option was to move from the city we loved and look elsewhere.

When I started my professional career, my dream was to work at an advertising agency. The one thing I understood very well about advertising is that it’s all about brand—personally and professionally. During our talks about marriage, we discussed a family name (something that usually arises when a couple talks about getting married). We talked about each option in great detail:

She takes my last name: The tradition here is that she is handed off as her father’s property to my property. While she values traditions, we both hated this thought. She isn’t my property, she’s my partner.

Hyphenate: This is somewhat modern, but what happens when our son/daughter meets Jane Doe-Smith and they get married. They’ll be named HerName-MyName-Doe-Smith. No dice.

Keep our names: This is another somewhat-modern solution but for us, we wanted one family name. We didn’t want to have to choose which last name our child takes, leaving the other parent as a bit of an outcast. Not only that, but practically it leaves something to be desired—the rules have become far more stringent when traveling to other countries with children; the parent who shares the child’s last name would have to provide written consent.

Create a new name: This is another modern solution that’s picking up, but our last names do not merge well. That, and we hated that idea.=

I take her name: Regardless of gender, one person takes the other person’s name to create one family name; I believe this is actually traditional. It promotes equality whereas in almost every other option above, the female loses her family name. This way, we’re one family, our children will have the same name, and we’re not compromising our personal values.

Since I wanted to work in advertising, I decided to apply to jobs using her last name as my last name when we moved. I held off from telling any of my family members. I kept my Facebook account family specific, while my other social channels remained for professional use, avoiding mixing the two.

After a year incognito, I had the opportunity to tell my parents (and grandparents) in person about my decision. I’ve never been so nervous. Almost anything I could tell them would have been easier than the news I was changing my last name—a notion completely foreign to anyone from a small, conservative town.

Another thing about small towns—news travels fast; before I knew it, I was receiving Facebook messages from family members (and old friends of my parents whom I haven’t spoken to in years) about my decision. Comments such as it’s a bad idea, assumptions that my in-laws are putting me up to this, telling me my deceased mother would never approve of such delinquency—all-in-all, very hurtful things. At the time, I chose to ignore these negative comments.

Fast forward a few months, and the comments continued to spew forth. The wall I built to keep my Facebook account separate from personal and professional lives crumbled as these negative comments began to populate my office’s Facebook business page. I’m not arguing that this choice will work for everyone, but when ninety percent of women are changing their names, I want to stand up and present this as a legitimate option and talk about my own experiences. Together, my partner and I decided what was right for our family, and if our gender roles were reversed, nobody would think twice or question my decision to change my name. It wouldn’t be such a minefield of opinions.

At the end of the day, it’s a tough go—but there’s not one moment either of us regrets this choice. Earlier on I said I was a pretty private person—still true, but I hope my own coming out on this decision provides a bit of guidance, or at least reassurance, for other men considering it.


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  • Folks like you are the reason other folks want to keep getting married. Thanks for pointing out totally normal dudes are willing to break the norms of society especially for the kind of perfect reason of, “It’s what was best for us.”

    I hope your lady appreciates you, something tells me she totally does.

    • H

      DD, something about your comment hit me the wrong way. It’s not asinine for a man to consider changing his name if it’s what is best for his family, just like it’s not asinine for a woman to consider changing her name if it’s what is best for her family. I think Dan makes it pretty clear in the article that he and his wife agreed that his changing of his name is what was best for their family. I’m not going to pretend this is the solution for everyone, because then, to some degree you’re right, it’s the exact opposite problem, but it is a valid solution for some people.

      While I get the practicality of wondering whether a marriage will last when changing names, let’s assume for the sake of argument that the marriage does last. Anything other than that is a disservice to the couple because it suggests that there are people who would be happy to see their marriage fail, and maybe would actively work towards that end. I wonder how many more marriages would succeed if the extended families didn’t try to work against things that the couples have figured out works best for their relationship.

      Lastly, I agree with your point that relationships are like puzzles where finding a right fit for both sides to coexist is exceptionally important. And in this case, the right fit was for the husband in the relationship to change his name. It was his decision, with his wife’s support. That said, I don’t think the puzzle pieces are locked into an exact shape. (I’d analogize this to enzyme kinetics and the lock and key model and how the induced fit model is a better description of what happens, but I don’t think very many people would get this analogy. *sigh*) So, I’ll try a different type of analogy.

      It’s like a piece of DIY furniture coming straight out of the box, with crappy instructions written in another language. There’s a general shape and structure that it’s headed for, and all of the pieces (probably) exist to get pretty close to what you are thinking in your head, but there’s a flexibility towards the final product in exactly HOW it’s pieced together. Some of the nails or screws can be interchanged with one another, and possibly some of the boards can even be swapped around, and then there’s always the option of completely changing them up, and doing crazy Ikea hacks with them. But, the point is that there’s a little flexibility with exactly how the pieces fit together, not an infinite amount of flexibility and interchangeability like Play-doh, but some. And that flexibility is where an actual marriage lies, because that’s the type of compromise that people talk about. You shouldn’t change the shape of your puzzle piece completely and become an edge when you’re a middle, but you might want to be a little flexible with the shape of your knobs.

  • Rachel

    I’m like…shocked that people were bombarding you and your company’s Facebook page with negative messages about your decision! And to say such hurtful things too? I just…can’t. What is wrong with people?!

    Anyway, this was one of those posts that made me both angry and happy.

    • Shiri

      This really got me. That is so inappropriate that it’s actually shocking to me. That’s strangely personal and vindictive, too, as though your choice affects them and they must take a stand! And make sure your employer realizes you’ve done such a shocking thing! Ridiculous. Go you!

    • Jessica B

      It’s shocking that people care that much about your decision. Messaging you on your personal page? Still a little bit more aggressive than I would personally like, but within the bounds of appropriate. Bringing your employer into it? Nuh uh, no way, bad manners, displaying signs of terribleness. I can’t imagine caring so much about someone else’s personal choice that I would spam their entire lives to show my disapproval.

  • You’re awesome, Dan — what a thoughtful post. Like Rachel, I’m floored that people would feel the need to comment on your very personal, has-nothing-to-do-with-them decision via Facebook and other channels . . . but oh, then again, I guess I’m not. PEOPLE.

  • KB

    SO MANY props to Dan for this. I, too, can’t believe people would feel the need to comment on this very personal decision – but it’s probably BECAUSE the idea is so foreign to them that they literally cannot conceive of this as a huge personal decision. It also sounds like he did not want to make a BFFD (Big Fat F&*$%ing Deal) about it in the beginning but now because other people are making it “a thing” he has to treat it as something unusual and strange instead of celebrating it as a natural option.

  • tess

    Bravo, sir. Seriously. This issue drives me nuts. My parents kept their names and hyphenated ours. While that was a great and egalitarian solution for them, it leaves their children with few options. I can’t handle being a triple hyphenate, nor would I impose that on my children or spouse. But there is also no way I’m giving up my name – especially since it’s a bit of a silly hyphenated combination of words and as a result has defined my identity in a big way. My fiance doesn’t want to give his name up either as he has three sisters who already changed their names and it would signal then end of his family name. So we’re stuck.

    • careyp

      I am in a similar situation. My fiance has a hyphenated name and has always hated that it is so long. (Apparently it caused some miss-hap with t-ball try-outs and he missed out that year. Poor kid.) My name has always been hard for people to pronounce and spell; I am not adverse to changing it. My fiance also wants to change his name. So we are trying to decide if we just pick one of 5 names (mine, his hyphenated two, my mom’s (who changed it after she and my dad divorced to a completely new name), or my mom’s maiden name) or blend 2 together (which doesn’t make any appealing names at all).
      It’s something that neither of us feel too strongly about either way, except we want only ONE name and that it be the same for both of us. (We are totally cool with adding additional middle names.) We have also entertained the idea of creating 0r picking totally new names. My current favorite is just all 5 initials as a name: RGPPP or we could shorten it to RG3P.

      • KTH

        How about being the Argeeps? That’s how I read RGPPP…

        • careyp

          oh, that’s something I hadn’t thought of. I like it!

    • PCE

      My maiden name has always caused problems with people never knowing how to pronounce or spell it. While my partner’s last name comes from a side of the family that is not a part of our lives for a very good reason. Hyphenating would have ended up with a name that sounds silly and kind of like a pasta dish. We talked about using one of our mother’s maiden names but that didn’t feel right either. In the end we chose to use his last name, and for me, I like to think that we are rehabilitating a great name. A name that has a long history, that can be traced back many generations and just needs a little help easing the pain one generation caused. I hope we’ll be able to have lots of happy memories as “The XXXXs” and bring our name back into “good standing” :)

      • Rachel

        I love this – it’s like you’re honouring the history of the name, not just one inhabitant.

        We have ahd this issue recently – My surname, which we love, is shared by a politician who is arrogant, ignorant, prejudiced and unpleasant.

        But it’s our name! And still good!

        • Allie

          Sorry, this just made me think of Office Space and Michael Bolton… (“why should I change my name- he’s the one who sucks!”)

    • MDBethann

      What about using one of your last names along with your husband’s last name? And you don’t HAVE to hyphenate. Everyone will try to make your name that way, but in the US you can legally change your name to HerLast HisLast (with NO hyphen) with the Social Security Administration and on your passport without a problem. Your state may have different regs as to what can go on your driver’s license, but Maryland let me put it on as HerLast HisLast.

      Any children we have will just have HisLast, because I don’t want to burden them with a complicated name, but this way I get to keep my identity AND have the same last name as my husband and children. To me, we all win. I plan to honor my family by incorporating family names into my children’s names.

  • Sarah H.

    This is a fantastic post, and I love that Dan chose to go against the grain. My wife and I have struggled with the idea of name changing ever since we were married in NYC last summer. We are both named Sarah. I would LOVE to take her last name, but then our names would be exactly the same. It’s tough, so I think until the end of time, we’ll simply be The Sarahs. I suppose there are worse things :)

    Bravo Dan!

    • jess

      I love this story! Clearly, you don’t, but just wanted you to know you had a name admirer from afar! The Sarahs. Too cool.

      • Sarah H.

        Awwww, thanks so much Jess! I know, I need to embrace the awesome of my life. I mean, who can plan for such things! You made me feel a little less jealous of those that get to change their last names :)

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    • Richelle

      Dear Team APW,
      Does Dan’s comment mean that you edited and reposted his blog essay if 4-22 without his permission? That doesn’t seem cool even though this time he didn’t mind

      • I originally submitted it back in April for this month’s theme. They emailed me yesterday that they were going to kick off the theme with my post, however, I missed the email. Today, my partner was skimming through her Google Reader and called me to tell me my article made it on APW and I updated my website after (mostly for bragging rights ;)

        • A Single Sarah for certain values of single

          Yay! I totally approve of bragging rights.

  • Corrie

    Dan The Man Nicholson is what you are. Way to stand up for what is important to you and feels right for you individually and as a couple. Shame on all the haters! For every hater, I guarantee you have at least 2 admirers. I’m sure you’ve gained plenty here on APW today, including myself.

  • I love this. Thank you for doing that. My future husband is very understanding about my name-change struggles and is happy with whatever I choose, but he wouldn’t go this far. If my name wasn’t so long and cumbersome and his so easy, I’d probably be more upset about it.

    • This is where I am at, too. He is alright with what I choose, but I don’t think he would change his last name.

    • thursday

      My fiancé says he’d consider it except mine’s “too boring”. It is one of the extremely common ones, and his first name is also extremely common, so I totally understand that.

      His response to “Why do I have to think about this name stuff and you don’t?” was “But I *am*.” (Except to the extent that I overthink and worry about things and he doesn’t.) And that was just pretty much the best thing ever.

      I keep hoping some idea will come up that is Awesome and Feels Totally Right but it hasn’t yet. The best one so far is him becoming Hisfirst Hislast Hismiddle and me becoming Myfirst Myname-Hismiddle (I actually dreamed that someone called me Myfirst Hismiddle and my dream-self had an intense visceral “that’s *not my name*” reaction. So, nope.)

  • Amber

    Ugh, name changing is so complicated. My fiance and I briefly considered him taking my last name, which happens to also be his mother’s maiden name, so it would still be a family name. But, in the end he felt like changing his last name would be disrespectful to his dad. I’m very slowly warming up to the idea of changing my name, now that I’ve decided to take his last name. The decision maker was not about me so much, but more about the kids we plan to have and that I’d like for all of us to have the same last name. Am I still mourning my last name? Totally! Is it taking some adjusting? For sure! And, I haven’t even changed my name yet!! Maybe by the time we do get married I’ll actually be used to the idea… As others have said, props to you for going against the norm and doing what was right for you and your relationship!!

  • Laura Wilkinson

    Way to go, Dan!! I would like to give you a high-five. And I have what feels like a dumb question in comparison to your situation: has anyone else faced this issue where your partner has a sibling with your same first name, meaning if you take that last name you’ll be effectively taking their sibling’s name? My fiance’s sister is named Laura, so if I take his last name, I’ll really be taking her name. And names are important – I wouldn’t want to encroach on someone’s identity. Anyone else, or is this one of those “not actually a problem” problems?

    • My husband’s cousin and I share a first name. Their mothers are sisters who took their respective husband’s names when they married, so I am Kelly V__ (took my husband’s name) and she is Kelly E___ (her maiden name).

      It’s not nearly as complicated as if we were both Kelly V__ but it’s still a little weird. They’re a CLOSE family, both in proximity and emotionally, so the two of us are often together. The family calls her both Kelly and my nickname “Kel,” and even after 5 years they still struggle with what to call me as a result. Sometimes they just call me by my maiden surname, R___, or sometimes they blurt out KellyR___ as if it were all one word.

      When we got married and I took my husband’s last name, they panicked over what to call me, now that I was no longer a R____. I kept R___as a second middle name, so I’ve told them they can keep on using it, but since they never did so consistently to begin with it hasn’t helped much. More often than not they just won’t use a name at all, but will get my attention with eye contact so I know they’re addressing me. I STILL respond all the time when someone says “Kelly” even though they’re talking to her and not me.


      • Eenie

        My mom and her sister both married guys with the same name. Her sister named her son the same name as me. So I’m glad I’m keeping tradition by dating someone with the same name as my brother, and he has a sister in law with the same name as me. It’s not even like these are real common names!

      • Lindsey d.

        Although there was no name crossover, my aunt (father’s sister) has called my mom by (only) her maiden name for 40 years. It’s a nickname/term of endearment now. I don’t know why they just can’t keep calling you R____.

    • I don’t have personal experience, but my close friends have this situation. They have been together for. . .8 years, I think? Married for almost two. She has the same name as his sister. I was surprised when she decided to change her last name, but I wasn’t privy to the decision-making process. I think he got over the weirdness of calling both partner and sister by the same moniker early on. To the two ladies, one is Cate and one is Kate, so at least there is some distinction. They have also become very good friends. So I think overall, it’s a non-issue.

      I was fascinated to think of Sarah’s story from upthread where she and her partner share FIRST names.

      Though I will say, my grandma and my aunt share first and last names, thanks to each of them taking their husband’s name. Even with different middle initials and different birth dates, because they go to the same medical practice, they have faced a LOT of confusion over records. Though my grandpa and my uncle (and my brother and my dad) share first and last names, I’ve never heard tell of the same confusion with them, despite nearly a nearly identical situation.

      • Brenda

        About Kate….. 95% of my friends are called Kate. My two best friends and closest work colleague are all Kate, and there are at least six friends/acquaintances I can think of off the top of my head called Kate or Katie. I think Kates in particular are used to everyone else of their generation having the same name. It’s funny though, that each one of them is so specific in my mind that even though people I’m talking to sometimes have no idea who I mean, it almost never occurs to me anymore that they all have the same name.

    • Anna P

      You’re not alone! My husband’s sister is an Anna W, and I was pretty adamant that I didn’t want to usurp her name. She’s been married for a few years and hasn’t changed her name, which indicates to me that she’s pretty attached to it. We pronounce ‘Anna’ differently, but still…I’m just not an Anna W – SHE is. Peder and I just got married last summer, and hemmed and hawed over possibly hyphenating, so we would be Peder and Anna P-W, or just having a double last name without hyphen, but then…kinda got lazy, and realized we were perfectly content with our own names, so we never changed anything.

      I’ve been realizing that my reluctance to change was not so much a matter of ‘not wanting to encroach on HER identity’ as it was not wanting to disappear MY name identity into hers. She said to me briefly once that she wouldn’t mind if I took their last name, but the more I thought about it, the less I wanted to have her name, and the more I just wanted to keep my own – well-assured, thanks to APW, that we will be every bit as much a FAMILY regardless of our names. :) It’s bound to vary with the feelings of the people involved, how much of a ‘problem’ or not-problem it may be. All the best with your decision, whatever you decide!

    • Jenni

      My boyfriend’s mother and grandmother have the first name, and thus when his mother married and changed her name, it was the exact same name as her mother-in-law. I cannot imagine how strange that was at first … but I guess you get used to it after a while!

      • Katy

        My mom had a similar situation… except my mom’s name is Carol, and her new Father-in-Law’s name was Carroll. So when she got married she had the exact same name as my grandfather! That must have been strange… (So glad I will not be sharing the exact name with MY father-in-law!)

    • achlys21

      My aunt and my mom had the same name for a while because my aunt changed her name when she married my uncle. Same first, middle, and last, and all spelled the same. And they went to the same clinic. Lots of confirming by birthday. To add to the mix, my other uncle married someone with the same first name, albeit spelled differently. My mom changed her name when she married my step dad so things are smoother now. But people got by just fine.

    • Kaylle

      I can speak to the other side of this situation, but my answer might not be what you are looking for. My experience was decidedly negative.

      After my mother passed away, my father began dating and eventually married a woman with the same first name as me. When we were all together, my name often got shortened, which was irritating. (To make matters worse, my brother then started dating a woman with the shortened name, so my name got shortened again. It started to feel like I had to change my name every time one of the men in my family started dating, which left me feeling really unimportant.)

      When my father and stepmother got married, she chose to change her name, and it really messed with my head for a while. I had something of an identity crisis. I was in my early twenties and I was not prepared to suddenly have to share a piece of myself that I felt attached strongly attached to. I also felt like I had already surrendered on the first name front and now I was being asked to surrender the last name too. It didn’t help that none of the rest of my family understood why I was upset; she and I did not really get along and I was accused of making a big deal out of it just to make trouble. Honestly that was maybe the worst part– no one would acknowledge that my feelings were valid. It’s stupid but just typing this now is making me cry, and all of this was 7 or 8 years ago.

      All of this to say, I’m sure it’s not a big deal for lots of people, but for some people it will be problematic. I’d suggest at least discussing it with the other person first. I would probably still have been frustrated by it, but at least I wouldn’t have felt blindsided by it and we could have had a conversation about why it was important to her, why it was difficult for me, etc.

      (And my husband wonders why I am so conflicted and undecided about changing my name, lol.)

      • A Single Sarah for certain values of single

        Your situation sounds so crazy, I can’t even imagine.

        My aunts and cousins who share names weren’t living in the same household for any of the name-sharing periods of their life. Having space would be so critical for me. I’m sorry you weren’t given that.

    • Aubry

      I totally agree that is strange, but I have heard of it. As long as you and her feel OK about it, I dont see a big problem. My family name is “Kathleen” and there are about 6 Kathleen Hs around. My best friend also has a family name of James R, and the first son is always named that ( there is an heirloom engraved grandfather clock, cool eh?). I also have another friend with every boy named john alexander M, and every nickname possible for John or Alexander! I guess being born into it and having it be usual in the family is different, but I think people will get used to it, or make up nicknames.

  • k

    When my next-generation-down cousin got married recently, he and his wife merged names. At the reception I overheard one of his friends saying, “Dude, now you have an accent AND a z in your name, how cool is that?” What I like even more is that when my cousin D, his father, got married in 1979 at the big family house my great grandfather built, he and his wife chose a brand new name (not a combination), so in that branch of our family tree, it’s become a tradition that the man changes his name, which I think is pretty cool.

    • Tea

      Ummm…. how did your family get so cool? Can we bottle that?

      • k

        Hah, well, last weekend my mother took the opportunity to inform a woman to whom I was introducing myself, “Her REAL name is HisLast,” so we’re not all the way there yet!

        It did annoy me but hey, she’s 85, what are you gonna do? Delightfully, the woman just smiled and told me, “I didn’t change my name when I got married either.”

  • Sarah

    I’m a teacher in a multi-cultural community and “different” last names is just the norm. Lots of kids have different last names than their parents and sometimes their siblings, based on their own cultural norms. There are lots of double and hyphenated last names. It seems to me that’s it’s narrowminded and petty to judge someone who chooses a family name you didn’t expect. It’s not typical for a man to change his name but really what’s the big friggin deal? Can’t people adjust?

  • Bubbles

    I almost had *such* a heart attack when I thought y’all had spelled “surname” incorrectly!

    The decision to change my name to my fiance’s was never going to be difficult for me. My current last name is my father’s last name, and since he and his family are not the most mentally stable people in the world I would actually prefer to go through the rest of my life without that recognizable link to them.

    Mad props to Dan for standing up and doing what’s right for him and his family! Your bravery is an inspiration.

    • Aubry

      Props to names you’re happy to change! I actually thought about legally changing my name and then taking his, to leave a harder trail to follow for my dad. But then I decided that is 1) giving him too much power 2) a waste of money 3) he could find my anyway, if he decided to look hard enough.

      I did however say that if C changed his name ( he was planning on changing to his mothers maiden name anyway -long story) I would take it but if he kept the one I met him with I wouldn’t, because I really didn’t like it!

  • We are still working out what we want to do. Thus far he is alright with whatever I choose.

    I brought up a friend who changed his last name to a co-worker, and I had the same response as Dan: WTF!?! Comments started flying about “I wonder who wears the pants in that relationship!” “His man bits must be in her purse.” I don’t understand why it’s a woman control thing, or a emasculating one. It is a decision for the couple to make, without other people’s conceptions of normal thrown in. Normal is boring, and subjective.

    • jess

      My friend and I were discussing this article and that exact principle earlier today. I feel like it has something to do with fear….fear of change, fear of feminism, fear of not being dominant, fear of women…something in there.

    • Jenni

      Jeez what do those commenters think of women who change their name? That they therefore are controlled by their husbands? I bet (hope …) they would shy away from such a statement, but implying the reverse is somehow okay?

  • Kate

    A solution I’ve considered proposing when it comes to the “name talk” with my guy is combing through our families’ genealogy and seeing if there are any names in common that we’d like to adopt as a last name. This might work best for people who have similar ancestry (in my case, Scottish/Irish). Or you could create a cool hybrid or hyphenated name out of what you find. Plus, fun detective work!

  • Thank you so much for this post. What I think a lot of men (and perhaps women) don’t realize is how much cojones it takes to own your name decision, whatever it may be! Thank you for sharing!

  • Marisa-Andrea

    It it just so bizarre to me how other people having nothing to do with you have such a vested interest in what you call yourself. Ugh.

  • “You change your name, it’s your mourning process. You keep your name, it’s you fighting relatives until the end of time.”

    This is what I am struggling with. My fiance is perfectly happy for me to keep my last name, and was actually surprised that I suggested changing it. But when I mentioned the idea of keeping my last name as a middle name, and him adding my last name as a middle name, he shut it right down.

    His opinion is that I don’t need to change my name, and he is definitely not going to change his name…and I kind of resent that. He, as a guy, doesn’t have to wrestle with the issue at all (keep or change? keep or change?) and is refusing to do so. Even if I don’t “have” to deal with it, I still have to deal with it, and it makes me mad.

    So, I think it is something I am going to bring up at our premarital counselling.

    • brendalynn

      Somewhat similarly: My husband’s approach was, basically, he’s not changing his name and I can do whatever I want. Which I guess I appreciate, but I was a little frustrated that the decision and the debate were pretty much mine alone to wrestle with.

      At least in the wake of my decision, he’s been supportive. But in my mind the name change question is one for both spouses because on one hand it is about whether someone should change his/her name AND on the other hand it is about sharing a name together. Both questions matter, and whatever decision you/we make affects both aspects. (imo)

      • My husband’s approach was, basically, he’s not changing his name and I can do whatever I want.


        It’s strange, because although I LOVE my maiden name (can we call that something else? Birth name maybe?) I always kind of knew I’d change my name to my husband’s when I got married, and I did. But when the name change thing came up and my husband did the “You do whatever make you happy! It’s your choice!” and then I brought up the possibility of him changing (just to bring it up–not because I even wanted him to do it) and he dismissed it out of hand, suddenly I got a little irritated about it!

        Reading this site has expanded my views in so many ways!

        • PumpkinPicker

          I pretty much *just* had literally the same exchange with the same reaction.

          The worst part is that I had previously figured out a way to change both of our names that I liked and he agreed on and my stupid state won’t let us do it at the license signing.

          Seriously, why is NY totally blasé about last names but uptight about middle names?

      • Tea

        YES! Here’s where I struggle as well. I identify pretty closely with the tangle of non-pronounceable letters that is my last name and my partner feels similarly about his own hypenated name (minus some of the non-pronounceability ) My partner is full of awesomeness and supportiveness and 100% has my back in choosing not to change my name.

        But, at the end of the day, we have a tradition that dictates that it is my back that needs someone behind it- not his. And, well, that sucks. Then, we get into what name we pass on to any future nerdy messy children we may have- and well, it sucks even more.

        Cheers to you Dan, for doing more than supporting your partner through parsing out this icky gendered crap, and jumping in and sharing the burden. As Meg said, welcome to the team.

        • It’s unnecessary that women get the blunt force of this tradition. While this was a discussion between my partner and I, it was ultimately my decision. My family blames her and her family, and to a point, that one person believes that she’s controlling me or running my life.

          To quote Meg – everyone has an issue or two that grabs them in the gut, and make them want to shake the world and get it to change – the fact that just one person thinks that she’s the culprit angers me even more, making me become more of an advocate for change. Something like that should not even be a thought, let alone said to another person.

      • Christa

        In the end, that’s the sole reason I didn’t change my name. He didn’t care what I did, but when he said there was no way he was changing his name, I eventually decided that it was important enough to take a stand on. I was pissed for months that my fairly egalitarian partner thought names were my problem and my problem only.

        To his credit, when people comment on my not changing my name, he does speak up and tell them that its all his fault. It’s been two years, and people still address me as Mrs. Him, so I’m gratified that he does a lot of the correcting.

        Any kids will probably be saddled with a 17 letter hyphenated last name that is utterly unpronounceable.

      • This was my husband, too. I was already set on changing my name for unrelated reasons, so the decision that I will change (when I get around to it) was a non-issue, but there’s paperwork involved and there’s emotional stuff to work through with the change.

        Hearing that opinion though? That essentially it was my deal and whatever I decided he’d be supportive of? I just dug my heels in about doing the work to change it for months after the wedding, and then I delegated. I made him do all of the preliminary paperwork – sending away for the marriage certificate, figuring out what agencies I need to talk to about what bits of government ID. It doesn’t change the fact that it’s still inherently unequal. It did make him think about the tradition and how it affected us and the inequality though, and it did make my frustration go away.

    • Kristen

      I’m changing my last to his and I’m changing my middle to a non-name word because I needed to change it for emotional reasons and picking a random name didn’t mean anything to me. My husband doesn’t like the middle name I’ve chosen and our counselor (a woman) suggested we pick a middle name together so there is no strife. I refused that deal. It’s MY name I told them and no one gets a say but me. No argument from my husband or our therapist has convinced me otherwise. Sometimes we have to stick up for ourselves and what we want, even with our partners and that’s ok. After several conversations, my husband is now coming around to why I feel the way I do and how I need his support. It was a strange bonding experience, first being on opposite sides, then banding together when I explained how alone I felt in this fight. Good luck to all of you ladies – they don’t have to agree with us, but they do have to respect our name choices. After all, it’s one of the most personal parts about us.

    • Sarah

      I also wanted to keep my maiden name as a middle name but when I checked out the process where I live, I decided against it. Apparently when you get married here you don’t “legally” change your name, you “formally” change your name. You assume a new name. Your maiden name is still a legal name of yours, just not the one you use presently. SO, if I added my maiden name as a middle name it would change all my documents back to my birth certificate. I’m keeping my maiden name at work and “assuming” my husband’s name in my personal life and we’ll see how it all goes down. Something to consider.

      I too was a bit resentful that my fiance didn’t ever have to consider the name change.

    • Claire

      That’s what makes the name-changing issue uncomfortable for me – the sense that it’s not an even playing field. With exceptions like Dan, it’s usually the woman’s problem to grapple with what to do and what that means. It’s not even that I think one choice (keeping your own name, hypenating, taking one partner’s name) is inherently better than other options, I just wish it was a joint decision made with all options on the table. I’ll admit to feeling (silently) ragey when someone says, “Oh, he would never let me keep my name. That’s out of the question”. But even the more “enlightened” dudes who are generous enough to “let” the woman decide what to do with her own name, they still have this protective shield of cultural norms that prevents them from really having to face the same decisions.

      Men, usually, don’t have to think about and articulate their reasons and defend their preference to keep their own name; they can just say “No way” and that’s the end of that. When a guy keeps his own name, it’s just a given that of course he would. When a woman keeps her own name, the guy gets praised for being supportive. When a woman takes her husband’s name, it’s no big deal. But when a guy takes his wife’s name, it’s cause for celebration (or derision). And I do celebrate it, because it is brave and it is progress! I just wish we didn’t still have so far to go before all choices were equally available and respected, regardless of gender. Whew, rant over.

      (I apologize if this language is heteronormative; that’s reflective of my own personal experience.)

    • Ohhhh, man. I feel you. I had already decided on my own to change my name. But when I had the conversation with my husband, he said that he would be hurt if I didn’t change my name and the he absolutely was not changing his. He also was frustrated that it took me 5 months to change it after the wedding. I needed the time to mourn the loss of my maiden name, and he didn’t get that. It sucked that we went through all the changes of the wedding together, but this one big transition was mine to go through alone.

      • Paranoid Libra

        I am a month away from being married for a year and so far I have only managed to change my driver’s license. I didn’t get around to that until Feb. My SS would have been changed too if they hadn’t decided to change hours and have incorrect hours online. I am hyphenating too yet it still is difficult. The reason why I am hyphenating? His last name is one of those super simple and super common ones and I don’t want to lose my easier searchability at work.

        There are pages of people with his last name and now only 1 other person with my original. I want to stay with my original name at work, but might still be forced to change my email once I get everything legally straightened out and need to also change it on my personal records. Sadly I am a gov employee so its not always as simple as just don’t put in the request. I am going to try my best to not have my name updated in the email system when there are 10 people alone with the male version of my first name and I really don’t want to have to tell people 5 times a day you sent this to the wrong person. At least the hyphen will protect me for just being another 1 of many.

  • Lindsey

    Way to go Dan! You and your partner are doing what is right for you and paving the way for diversity and equality, don’t lose sight of how important that is. Stay strong and best of luck.

  • Claire

    Mad props to Dan for having the guts to make the decision that was right for his baby family and stand up for that choice against the (seriously ridiculous!) blow back.

  • Ana

    I will totally write a Remember the Lesbians post about this…once we tell our families about our decision. So far they’ve been curious but not pushy, and they know we’re choosing one family name. We JUST settled on her taking my last name and both of us making her pre-marriage last name our middle names (and giving future children the same middle/last combo). The process wasn’t easy but it was probably easier than it is for many opposite-sex couples. It was wonderful not to have rules so we could focus on the other strange reasons we did/not want to change our names.

  • One More Poster

    Dan and Others,

    What was your experience in legally making this happen? My fiance wants to proudly(!) take my name (doesn’t he *rock*?!?!) when we get married, but we’re afraid of the legal hoops and cost involved.

    We had heard through a friend of mine that we would have to go through the courts rather than the normal “just show up at Social Security with a copy of your marriage license and birth cert.”

    • Andrea

      Yes! I’m having the same concerns right now!!!

    • Maddie

      It depends on what state you live in, but this article gives an idea of where to start or what might be involved (bonus points of helpfulness if you live in CA!)

      • One More Poster

        Thanks, Maddie!
        I live in PA, and we’re getting married in VA. Joyous times, right?!

      • Jessie

        My husband changed his middle name to my last when we got married, and he did have to go through the court system. It might have been different if it had been his last, but it was a really long and time consuming process. I’m so glad he did, but it really makes me frustrated that he had to jump through all these legal hoops to make it happen!

    • Teresa

      Well, in NY, you just write it in on your marriage license. NY gives a space for both partners to change their names and gives you a list of options that are acceptable, like either of your original last names, or a combination of those names,etc.

    • When I changed my name after our marriage to MyLast-HisLast, I asked the nice woman at the Social Security office (in NH) if he could just bring in his marriage license like I had to do it and she assured me that he could (b/c otherwise it would a discrimination suit in the making). :) He did and had no problem changing his name. Check your state regulations, but theoretically, you should be able to do the SS change easily (again, b/c otherwise it would a discrimination suit in the making) and many banks, DMV’s, etc. do the name change based on your SS card. Hooray for the feds getting it right!

  • Amber

    Ugh, this is something we’ve struggled with too. My partner feels very strongly about keeping her last name–she’s from a big Italian family that is full of women with very little prospects of the family name continuing on otherwise. I come from a very small family that is also predominately female, and if I change my name, that’s likely the end of our family name. To further complicate things, we’re both scientists, and have published under our current last names, and in the research world, changing your name after being published and establishing your scientific ‘reputation”‘ is a risky move.

    As much as I’ve never been a fan of hyphenating, it’s also really important to me that we share a last name with our future kids. We currently live in the South, and anticipate lesbian parenting will be tricky enough already, so this seems like a good approach to hopefully making some things a bit more straightforward. I’ll be hyphenating (keeping my last name first to ease things professionally), and our kids will have her last name. Not for everyone, but it will work for us.

  • I’ve been trying to write this comment throughout the day as I really do want to say thank you. Your generous support honestly helps me and my partner in a sea of negative opinions.

    A lot of you have expressed your own situations, which is by far the most amazing thing I’ve seen. Never have I thought this article would spark so much discussion (let alone actually be read). Some of you have mentioned that your partner shot down the idea right away. I want to encourage your husband / fiancée / partner / etc. to be open to the discussion – after all, the two of you are family, and it’s your family. What you talk about is between you and your partner, and the decision you make will be based on your own needs and views.

    I want to reiterate that this article reflects our needs and personal views, and that the intention was to challenge society’s norms and help spark this very conversation. Thank you again for your overwhelming support, and I hope that you share this article with those who may be in a similar situation and/or find the inspiration in your own lives.

  • I love this post! But I’m literally baffled by the idea that family and acquaintances were THAT vehement about your choice to change your name. If it had been your parents giving you crap about it in private, that’s one thing… but the idea that people were posting on your business’s Facebook page is so inappropriate that I don’t even know how process it. Especially considering that, if you were a woman, the name change would pretty much be a non-issue.

    My husband and I considered creating a whole new name. The symbolism of creating a new family with a new name was nice, but we just couldn’t get past it feeling… off… to us. I ended up taking his last name and keeping my maiden name as a middle name. It works well, especially because his last name is actually *almost* the same as my mother’s maiden name. :-)

  • Class of 1980

    So here’s what is hilarious. What Dan did WAS traditional at one time.

    Go back in time in the United Kingdom and either the man or woman changed their name, according to which family had more clout or property to inherit.

  • This is absolutely wonderful. Hubs and I talked about a similar issue and decided to go with the cooler last name. While that just so happened to be his, I loved that it was up for discussion. Thanks so much for sharing this wonderful story, and shame on your FB friends for even thinking it’s their business in the forst place :-)

  • jenn

    One solution from a couple of a friend of mine: during their wedding, they had the officiant flip a coin with heads assigned to one name and tails to the other, and went with heads! (Now I can’t remember if they ended up with the husband’s or the wife’s name, but it doesn’t matter.) Brave, I think, and super cool.

    • L

      That sounds awesome.

    • Shiri

      Part of what I like about this is that they did it publicly. I realize this isn’t for everyone (and definitely wouldn’t work in my relationship), but it certainly would stop the kind of aggressive responses (at least from people present) that Dan has gotten. There’s also something playful about it, which is lovely.

  • Carrie

    When we were engaged, my now-husband seriously thought about changing his name to mine. He ultimately decided not to change it. He’s a photographer, and his existing name is his business brand — like his business website is at [hisname].com, and his clients write checks to [Hisname] Photography. Changing his name would have meant losing much of the brand recognition he’s built up.

    But it made me really happy that he thought about it of his own accord, and had some genuine reasoning behind why he wanted to keep his name. It meant I wasn’t alone in having to think about names and weigh a decision.

    I mean, people still asked me whether I was changing my name, and no one asked him. The judgments (good or bad) still fell on me for keeping my birth name, not on him for keeping his. It’s not like we evened the social/cultural playing field just by having that conversation. But it did make a difference to me. And I think it does make just a tiny bit of a difference to the wider world when he mentions it to people sometimes during conversations about weddings and name-changing. Like, hey, this is a thing that some guys think about too!

    But Dan, it’s guys like you who are really changing the wider world on this issue, by deciding to change your name and being visible about that decision. You are awesome.

  • Fiona

    This is such an amazing post and it is such a relief to read everyone’s stories and experiences. My FH and I have been having this conversation for so long and it feels sometimes that it is endless. He went rough a big, important really careful brainstorming of his own accord to figure out what was important to him, and never took the name change for granted, which to me is SO awesome! The thing is that he landed on that me taking his name was really really important to him, and that no combination of other options: me keeping mine, me hyphenating, us both hyphenating, picking a new name, him taking mine, would appease this ache in his heart. The decision is mine in e end, but I’m stuck not wanting to loose “my” name, but not wanting to “win” knowing how important it is to him (I have a wicked, totally unusual name, which is spelt funny but sounds awesome and is short so it’s never been a thing, plus, I’m making a career name for myself, plus I’m Mexican and NO ONE in my family has changed their names, so it’s not part of my tradition at all) like several people posted upstream, I really feel resentment that there can’t be a middle ground because there is so much weight culturally engrained in the name-game… I’ve heard members of his family tell him that it’s humiliating for a man for his wife not to take his name, that his masculinity is questioned or he is considered “whipped” if he can’t get his wife to follow tradition, and I HATE the idea of him being bombarded by that on a regular basis, and more when it’s “my fault”, but I’m also really rebelling at the idea that I have to do something that I don’t want to do because of the opinions of “people” which doesn’t limit my real (not rebellious) wish to meek my name and my parallel concern and wish to protect him from all the vicious comments that are bound to come his way! *rant over* anyway thanks for offering this space and for everyone’s awesome and hyper-respectful participation, I love APW!

  • Rebecca

    Reading all these comments makes me want to run around smacking all the judgey people who can’t mind their own business (which obviously wouldn’t help, but still…some people!).

    We each kept our names- his has some family history (he gets numbers after his name- not fair), so I didn’t want him to change it and miss my chance to saddle future children with the same one. My entire reason for keeping mine was/ is “it’s mine and I’m keeping it.” People give me weird looks when I say that, but no one asks follow up questions, either.

    Our poor future children will probably wind up with different last names- the current plan is to split surnames 50-50, with gender determining who goes first. We’ll probably have to tote extra paperwork around, and may very well warp our children forever, but it will be fair, darn it.

    At this point I share a surname with a tiny fraction of the blood relations I consider to be close family, so I don’t really worry about not being a family if we don’t have a same name. It seems to have worked out okay so far.

  • L

    I never get tired of the name-change discussion. I love to read about everyone’s experience. Processing these discussions – everyone’s opinions and stories – helped me realize that it was right for me to change my name to my husband’s last name. Although it is not his cultural norm (and all my in-laws think it is hilarious that I have their last name), after we got married I felt really strongly about it and agonized about it for a month. He stayed neutral and said it was entirely up to me. We had already vetoed him changing his name (he is not a citizen and we are in the process of changing his visa and our marriage is not recognized by his home country so there would have been no way) and I had wanted to lose my father’s name since about age 10, so it seemed obvious I would take his name.

    Except that my mother always derided women who had changed their names. So I had to sort through that shame/baggage. And once we legally changed it, I immediately felt relieved and unburdened by a lot of trauma inflicted by my Dad. A name is just a name but the process can mean so much more.

  • Victoria

    I feel like there’s a sixth option here that was not mentioned in the original post. Similar to, but not quite the same as creating a new name from merging your two last names, why not just pick a new (but existing) last name for the two of you to adopt? Both changing your name could be the most equal option and certainly represents the beginning of a new family unit that the two of you will create. This is something I’m strongly considering.

  • Oh I wish my partner hadn’t point-blank refused even consider hyphenating (all the while saying ‘a name is just a word’, at least he acknowledged the contradiction later). Now we’re just keeping our names (which I’ve come to like better), and the ‘difficult’ conversation has moved to baby names (sigh).

  • KOTF

    Thank you thank you for sharing.

    Ugh it makes me unbelievably angry to hear that 1) anyone at all would think that your name change is an open topic of discussion free for them to insult & doubt and 2) some folks think your name change is a result of anything but your personal decision to do something that feels right (blaming it on your in-laws? AHHH).

    After much debate and an initial instance of changing my last name to the Mr.’s name on our marriage license (but nowhere else), we have decided on a different route: we will both be taking a family name from my side of the family tree. So, we will both be changing our last names, but he is essentially still taking a name of mine. We haven’t told anyone of our decision yet. I know he is dreading having to explain his decision and endure a lot of snarky comments, and I’m also anticipating that his family will accuse me of forcing him to take the name. I know it doesn’t truly matter what anyone else says/thinks, but it sure is a pain in the ass to have to put in so much time and effort just so we can endure the backlash about a (personal!) decision that feels so right to us.

  • Carrie

    There aren’t enough ways to say thank you.

    Also. I am thick fingered and reported instead of exactly-ing the first comment. So sorry; it was unintentional!!

  • Danger

    Like most of us, I believe that each person should do precisely what suits them when it comes to their name and their family name. Thanks to Dan for posting and getting this discussion going!

    I would like to respond to the idea of a woman’s name change hearkening back to the days when she was transferred from her father’s property to her husband’s. Back then, the entire marriage signified that, not just the name change. Fortunately, that definition of marriage has evolved over time. The same is true of changing a name – it no longer means what it did hundreds of years ago. I don’t say this to imply that this is the RIGHT option (I’m not going to do it myself), I just wish to make the point that adopting one’s husband’s surname can be traditional without necessarily bringing along the unpleasant antiquated connotations.

    I’m going to warn you now that what follows is pretty nerdy, but I know I’m not the only one out there, so here goes. If you’re nerd-averse, stop reading now. Okay, the thought of not passing on my last name or my mother’s last name used to bother me. But then I remember my mitochondria. These are the bits of cells responsible for producing energy. Instead of getting one copy from mom and one from dad like most other genes, mitochondrial genes are only inherited from the mother. Any kids I may have with my fiance get a lasting molecular legacy from me, passed down to me from my mom, and her mom before her, back through the generations to time immemorial. It seems only fair that they can have his last name. :)

  • Esther

    Wow, this is such a great article. I’m kind of shocked that people would be so negative — and actually come out and say it in such inappropriate places as on a work facebook page! Props to Dan for sticking to his guns on this one!

    The whole name changing thing could have been a pretty interesting conversation for us too – except that the country where we live/are getting married doesn’t even allow name changes on marriage. It’s weird because although I would probably have kept my name anyway, I kind of feel annoyed not to even have the option!

  • Paranoid Libra

    The fact that people got so up in arms about the fact that you decided to change your name instead and protest the they did is one of the most inappropriate things I feel I have ever heard of. I am sorry you have gone through this. To me its on the same level of say a couple accidentally got pregnant and knew there was no way they could raise that child so they make the very personal and very difficult decision to keep the pregnancy but to give the baby up for adoption. Then everyone they know is harassing them via any means necessary saying how could you give up a little miracle and you’ll find a way to make it work. It’s just as awful.

    They are both things people will obviously eventually see that someone is using a new name or someone is obviously pregnant. It would be no one’s business of why you might choose to give a child up for adoption, and it’s no one’s business why you change your name. (and my very random comparison is because whenever I see a pregnant woman I know I have no idea what is going on in her life and that who knows the child could be an oops that will be adopted out so it’s none of my business so I always avoid those attempts at friendly idol stranger chit chat of oh when are you due?)

  • Jan

    I am wondering, do the majority of people think it is very important for their children to share a last name with parents? For me, it hasn’t caused me anxiety or made me second guess my decision to keep my last name, or my husband to keep his last name after marriage. If we have children, neither of us mind whose last name is used (in fact, I think we will be flipping a coin). We both thought that once our child grows older (maybe like 16 or 18), he or she would get the option to choose which they want to use as an adult. Is this a very unique way of approaching the name thing or have others had this idea?

    • tess

      My parents told me they always believed I would choose which of my hyphenated names I would keep and use as an adult. I have to tell you – you couldn’t pay me enough to make that choice, no matter how much each of them tells me they don’t care which one I pick.

      • Jan

        Really? How come the decision is so challenging for you? I am truly curious. I always thought it would be awesome to be able to choose when I was growing up!

      • Senorita

        There’s always planned hyphenation. Girls carry their mother’s name when they get married and boys carry their father’s.

        So if your hyphenated daughter meets a dashing young hyphenated man, the world will not crumble :)

  • js

    Initially, I wanted my husband to take the name my daughter and I share. To me, it was very simple but he was very much against it. Taking my name, he felt, would have made him less of a man. He is not a “bad” person for feeling this way. To be clear, he never said or pushed me to take his name either. It was my choice to hyphenate so that we were all connected, all still a part of the same team. Where it gets tricky, and what I think about now and wish I would’ve brought up, is when we have future children together and my daughter doesn’t share her siblings’ name. It also gets me that so many people just assume I took his name and don’t see why this is important. Thank you for bringing this up. Thanks for the discussion.

    • Kamena

      Hi, I just wanted to put a word in on your daughter having a different last name than any of her future siblings, and how she might feel about that. I am like her in that sense; my mother married when I was 2 and took my step-dads name, while I still carry her maiden name. I have two younger sisters now and I do kind of feel “left out” by not sharing a name with anyone in my house. I feel that way mainly when people refer to us as “the -his name- family” because I don’t share the name and it seems to exclude me.
      with the hyphen she may feel different than I do, still being connected to you by name. I don’t think it would bother me as much if my mother had done that, but it wasn’t really an option when she got married.

  • A-TOWN

    I love this article! I have two now-married friends and the husband took on his wife’s last name. His father took off on him when he was very young and his mother was unable to care for him, so he ended up in foster care for most of his younger years. His wife comes from a Catholic Latino family with strong family values and traditions, so, naturally he would want to become part of that family. I think it was a way to leave his past behind him and become part of a loving, supportive family.

    Go Dan!

  • shortnsweet

    My husband and I are two years into marriage, but are still legally our pre-wedding names despite making the decision to hyphenate very early on. What’s the hold up? We can’t figure out how to change his name! There is a ton of information out there on how to change my name after marriage (even services to do it for you), but for men changing their names there is very little guidance or support. Lots of research indicates it could even be expensive (insert long tirade on the sexism and pressure on women as a result of this here). I would love a how to change your name post from this author or another man who has been through it. Any takers?

  • You are AWESOME! I’ve been married for a bit over 10 years. I wanted to keep my name but it was important to my husband to have a family name we and our future children shared. We ended up hyphenating and thought we’ll leave our kids choice up to them. We were both surprised by the anger that ensued at the thought, I mean it’s just a name doesn’t change the person. We held off finalizing what to do until our wedding day and were announced at our reception as Mr. & Mrs. Hyphenated name. Many of his family did NOT accept (still don’t) and any correspondence had his old last name. Now as a parent myself, I can’t imagine being mad at them. I want my boys and girls to be able to choose their name and be modern or traditional, whatever makes them happy. Thank you for sharing your choice and being a modern guy.

  • Cat

    The soon to be mr and I had this conversation, and it was always pretty obvious to both of us that I was going to keep my name and he his. BUT I did this under the condition that if someone should ask (and this is the important part) EITHER of us the answer is “We are both keeping our names”. Because ya know don’t assume.

  • YoVict

    I wonder why you ‘hated’ the idea of blending names? I kind of like both “Doson” and “Nicet”. All the best to you!

  • MichB

    Thank you. Thank you thank you thank you.

    I don’t want to give up my last name. I’m 25 and single, so it’s not a decision I have to make any time soon and when I do I intend to discuss it with my partner and reach an agreement like reasonable adults (maybe I’ll be fine with changing my name for the right person, who knows) but for now I feel very strongly that I want to keep it.

    I’m the oldest child of four, the oldest cousin of nine, the most tomboyish of the girls, and my one younger brother, for various reasons, is unlikely to marry which would mean the family name is lost. Honestly, I suppose I feel I’m the equivalent of the ‘man of the house’ and represent my generation of our family. I was the one who helped Dad put up the shelves, I did the babysitting, I was the first to leave home, the one that came back to mind the family when my Grandpop died and my parents went to console my Nan. All this is such a huge part of my identity that it would take a very kind and understanding man to help me lay that down. I’m not saying I’d never do it, but that I hate the idea of being forced to it simply because that’s what has always been done by other people who aren’t us.

    When on a work trip with a married male colleague we got to discussing this, and I mentioned this fact to him. He’s a pretty egalitarian guy, and everything else we’d been discussing about gender inequality he’d agreed with, but on this he balked. The phrase he used was that the idea of a wife not taking his name made him feel ‘unmasculine’. I tried to explain to him that this stripping of identity he felt at the idea was the exact same one I felt. That the important thing was the couple having the *same* name regardless of whose they took, that there was really no difference between his emotions and mine, but I’m not sure he understood. It was the closest we’ve ever come to falling out, and there was a definite tension in the car for the rest of the trip.

    Ultimately, if I marry I’ll do what’s best for us as a couple, so it’s a huge reassurance to hear from a guy that our future husbands can be willing to do the same when that means denying tradition for them too.

  • J

    I feel like I’m coming to this conversation a little late, but it’s awful how some people will completely and disrespectfully disregard his feelings on a decision he made. It’s one thing to dislike or disapprove of his decision – that I understand; but it’s something else to be a total unwarranted jerk about it.

    I made the decision to take my wife’s name after we got married, and while I knew it would be an unpopular decision, I never expected the torrent of shameful and hurtful things being said to both of us by the people who supposedly care the most. The real kicker is when I asked why they felt entitled to intrude into my personal decision especially in such an appalling manner, they said it’s because they love me. I guess some people have difficulty expressing love. Regardless of the backlash, I’m happy and proud of the decision I’ve made, so I know it’s the right one for me.

    Dan, thank you for sharing your experiences; I wish for nothing but happiness for you and your wife.

  • ZZ

    My husband and I each kept our own names when we married, but years later when our daughter was born we gave her my last name. My husband then decided to take my last name as well so we’d all have the same family name, and I’ve been shocked at the negative backlash, even from my own family members.

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  • Kaity

    Thank you for putting this out there as a valid option. It’s great to hear this from a male perspective.